As promised, Microsoft has introduced the ARM-based Surface RT tablet (Surface with Windows RT) to retailers other than Microsoft's own stores. This move will undoubtedly help boost sales numbers before the year closes, as consumers can now walk right into their favorite electronics store and have special one-on-one time with the tablet before purchase.
Despite what seems to be a cloud of negativity hovering over Windows 8 and especially the Surface RT tablet, reviews and ratings of Microsoft''s tablet on Best Buy, the $599.99 Surface RT unit sporting 32 GB of storage and a black Touch Cover, tell a different story (opens in new tab). In fact, it seems that customers who bought the pricey gadget actually like it. A lot.
According to the ratings, the Windows RT tablet sports a 4.7 out of 5 thanks to twenty-eight customer reviews. Twenty-four customers gave it a five star review, and three gave it four stars. Out of the batch, there's only one unhappy customer who said Surface RT wasn't what he/she expected.
"This product is way overpriced. You are paying a premium just because it is from Microsoft, and it comes with 'Windows', but then again it doesn't even run any software written for Windows. How confusing is that?" the disgruntled customer wrote. "Microsoft's app store is desperately lacking applications, when compared to Apple's (iOS) and Google's (Android) app stores. What good is a tablet without any apps?"
This Miami, Florida-based customer also accused the other twenty-seven reviews to be written by Microsoft employees, or Microsoft enthusiasts. Whatever.
So what's so great about the Surface RT given that it can't run Windows applications written for x86-based CPUs from Intel and AMD? One customer really loved the new OS itself.
"The Live Tiles on windows devices really is a big deal for me," he said. "Again back to being productive its so nice to look at the start menu and immediately see a tile that tells me up-to-date weather, stock price, emails, status updates, etc. without needing to actually go into the apps."
Another satisfied Surface RT owner said the device was better than expected. "I gave away my Android tablet after using this for a while. The keyboard and touchpad are unobtrusive but there when you need them and the keyboard has cursor keys!" the customer said. "The GUI is actually very well thought out for a touchpad once you get used to it. Performance is just fine and battery life is about a day of use."
Some of the issues these customers have had with Surface RT despite their 5-star reviews include volume output, a "primitive" e-mail app, problematic support with Flash in the Modern UI version of IE10, the price itself, a lack of big name apps and more. Positive comments include a great build quality, excellent support for USB devices, portability, the addition of Office 2013, great photo capture quality and more.
As previously stated, Microsoft's 4Q12 numbers regarding the Surface RT were low probably because the device was limited to Microsoft's online and brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon, Apple and Google can get away with direct distribution because they have experience. Plus all the negativity hovering over Windows 8's new interface likely hasn't helped push Microsoft's hardware either.
It's actually good to see these positive reviews stockpiling on Best Buy. Unfortunately, Microsoft's Surface Pro (Surface with Windows 8 Pro) will be a lot more expensive, so we'll have to wait and see if those reviews will be just as positive.